The famous British historian H.G. Wells is credited with this quote: “I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”
It is hard to find anyone these days that will truly contest that reality.
Our very calendar reflects this fact. We live in 2014 A.D., which stands for anno domini – “the year of our Lord.” As Scripture tells us, Jesus defeated death and ascended back into heaven, and his Church is currently awaiting his return. But this “penniless preacher” didn’t keep a blog nor have a video crew following him around documenting all of these events. So where was the story being recorded during the ministry of Jesus and beyond? In his community. Professor Albert Wolters puts it this way in his book Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformation Worldview: “Jesus did not (like Mohammad) write a book. Rather, he formed a community to be the bearer of this good news” (p.122, emphasis mine).
Did you catch that? Jesus did not speak with book agents, sign publishing deals, or try to pick what cover design would go on his next hardback, paperback, or e-book. No pen. No paper. No keyboard. As someone who enjoys reading and struggles with the basics of writing, I find this fascinating. Jesus picked the most unlikely characters in the world to be his disciples and wrote his story on the hearts of rugged men and impoverished women.
Later, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, saying, “You are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3.3). Though he wrote many of the letters found in our New Testament, the point for Paul was not simply penning words on pages. The point was to go beyond that and see the Spirit pen God’s words on human hearts. The Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of Scripture indwells every believer, and thus believers and unbelievers are constantly reading the message on our hearts.
The story hasn’t changed.
From the very beginning of Scripture, we see God as a community who creates people to be in community with him and each other. The blazing center of it all is the good news of the gospel that God loves, pursues, saves, and rejoices over each of his kids – his community, the Church – who read and obey the Word of God, inspired by God, to the people of God (2 Tim. 3.16).